Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ARROGANCE....avoid it like the PLAGUE!!

From the book "The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me"  by  Colin  Clark  -  1956  making  of  the  movie  "The Prince and the Showgirl"  with  Sir Laurence Olivier  and  Marilyn Monroe.

Here  we  see  some  revealing  insights  into  a  few  famous  film  stars  and  the  end comments of Clark about Marylin Monroe and the film of 1956, where Colin Clark as a young man of 24 was part of the production.

Winter is almost here, but the film seems to go on and on. Are all films such agony? Those balmy summer days with my little Wdg seem literally years ago. But showbiz has its compensations. Tonight Milton had a wonderful dinner party. It is already 11.30 but I must make a note of it before I go to sleep.

The main guest was Gene Kelly, and he is quite incredible — friendly, positive, unassuming and fantastically witty. He can mimic anyone, dance on a sixpence, sing like an angel and tell endless jokes. At one stage I remarked to him how much I had enjoyed the Bolshoi Ballet — I was trying to impress him I suppose, since only a few people have been able to get anywhere near Bolshoi performances. He immediately jumped up and did an impression of Ulanova which was devastating — but also touching. After all she is about 45 and still dancing Giselle, albeit magically well. Gene Kelly managed to convey all this as he danced in the dining room of Tibbs Farm, humming his own rendition of the music. Most impressive, and there is no doubt what got him to the top — talent. The other star guest was a glamorous starlet. She is an Italian girl called Elsa Martinelli and she has had a special place in my affections ever since I was 15. I had a colour photograph of her pinned up inside my 'bury' at Eton. In it she had on very short jeans and a revealing wet shirt. Attired thus, she alternately drove me crazy and stimulated me to action for two years. I suppose the 'real thing' could never quite match a posed pin-up. Miss Martinelli is still beautiful, but eight years older now of course. She is also very unpleasant. She is gratuitously nasty; she rarely smiles, and she loves to put people down (especially me), so that's the end of that love affair! I'm certainly glad we aren't making The Sleeping Prince with her playing Elsie Marina.
Even so, Milton is a wonderful host, and David Maysles is an excellent foil, so the whole thing went really well. It was almost impossible for me to get up and leave the room. GK and EM are staying the night. EM has a near perfect figure — or at least she had in that picture. Even so I didn't want to sleep with her. Poison is poison, no matter which bottle it's in.





THAT  -  Keith Hunt)


A new film has started shooting at Pinewood with Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn. It is a comedy called The Iron Petticoat. Everyone was dying to meet Hope and dreaded working with Hepburn. Needless to say Hepburn is divine and BH (Bob Hope) is arrogant and unpleasant. Hepburn says hello to everyone while Hope remains totally aloof. I met Hepburn today when she came to visit SLO (Sir Laurence Olivier). She is as gorgeous as Dame Sybil, only much younger, all red hair, and freckles, and a huge smile which she turned on me as often as on SLO. SLO did have a point when he said later: 'Why couldn't MM have been like that? What a lot of fun we could have had, making this film.'*
* Katharine Hepburn had been a witness at SLO's secret marriage to Vivien in California in 1940. In 1973 she and SLO made their only acting appearance together, as the ageing couple in Love Among the Ruins, directed by George Cukor for American television.








We never saw Marilyn again, but we knew exactly what was going to happen. She would fall out completely with Milton Greene (she did, in 1957), and Marilyn Monroe Productions would never make another film (it didn't). Her marriage to Arthur Miller would collapse and end in divorce (it did, in 1961). She would become unable to work at all, and would eventually commit suicide (she did, in 1962). Had we been told about conspiracy theories and Kennedy connections, we would simply have shrugged our shoulders. The pressure of just being Marilyn Monroe was already making each day a painful struggle for her, and the end of the story was inevitable.
While she was making The Prince and the Showgirl, Marilyn was often in great distress. Of course she was in an unfamiliar foreign country, but even those with whom she had chosen to surround herself were from a completely different world to her. Milton and Amy Greene, Lee and Paula Strasberg, Arthur Miller, Hedda Rosten, Arthur Jacobs and Irving Stein all came from a New York, Jewish, immigrant background which was the opposite of Marilyn's unstructured Californian upbringing. Not for her the possessive mother in the warm Bronx kitchen, giving a child a sense of its own worth, and the future confidence that goes with it. And yet, 

when she was in front of a camera, Marilyn radiated a joy

and a vitality which made everyone else pale by

 comparison. No wonder we cannot forget her.

It was clear that The Prince and the Showgirl was not destined to be a big success at the box office. It was too 'stagy' and too claustrophobic. Nor would the film make much impact on the career of either of its two stars. Paradoxically, it was Olivier's performance that was most affected by the problems on the set. Despite his unprintable comments about her inexperience and unprofessionalism, Marilyn had appeared in virtually the same number of films as he had (The Prince and the Show girl was, her twenty-fifth to his twenty-eighth), and her relationship with the camera was more intimate than his —

Dame Sybil was right. "Watching the film today, Marilyn

appears happy and natural, while Olivier often looks stiff

and awkward.

Marilyn's next film role, in Some Like it Hot, brought her great critical acclaim, but no relief from the problems of production. Many years after it was made I met the director, Billy Wilder, at a Hollywood party. Stuck for something to say to this fierce old Austrian, I murmured that I too had worked with Miss Monroe. 'Then you know the meaning of pure pain,' he growled, and stalked away. Yes — but of pure magic too.
Laurence Olivier did not forget his promise to take me with him. He had found a play which would give him the new lease of life he had been looking for. The Entertainer by John Osborne opened at the Royal Court Theatre on 10 April 1957, and is still considered one of Olivier's greatest performances. I became his personal assistant, and also the Assistant Stage Manager at the Court. We took the play on tour and then to the Palace Theatre in the West End. Halfway through the run Joan Plowright took over the role created by Dorothy Tutin, and Olivier's marriage to Vivien Leigh finally collapsed. By this time I had accompanied Larry and Vivien on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's tour of Europe with Titus Andronicus, but that is the subject of a different diary.
I never worked on another feature film, and in the film world you are either in or out. Consequently I never saw David Orton or Mr Perceval again; but I owe them both a debt of gratitude. I continued my friendship with Tony and Anne Bushell, and I often visited Larry in his dressing room wherever he happened to be performing. Vivien I saw up until the last week of her life in July 1967.
After Olivier went to Hollywood to make Spartacus in 1959 I was offered a job by Sidney Bernstein, Chairman of Granada Television. Once more I had high hopes, but I soon found myself back where I had started, as a trainee Assistant Floor Manager. Eventually I did become a producer and director — of documentary films on 'the Arts', of which I made over a hundred. It has been a rewarding and enjoyable career, and I never forgot the lessons I learned on The Prince and the Showgirl.



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